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June 5, 2009

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PAGE 4A 1TIISSIOll remains HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 5, 2009 i By Jonathan D. Sarna the start on Winning over assimilated Jewish ish community's interest in campus affairs, Under his leadership, Hillelbecame an inde- college students, meanwhile, waned. As B'nai B'rith support for pendent organization, reached more students WALTHAM, Mass. OTA) Eighty-fiveyears"The average student is sick and tired of Hillel diminished, Hillel professionals--fate- than ever and raised unprecedented sums. ago, in 1924, two wealthy and accomplished hearingaboutthegloriouspastofourpeople," fully concentrated their attention on the Today, guidedbyPresidentWayneFirestone, Jewish college students, Nathan F. Leopold a Hillel executive reported in 1928. "He wants minority of involved Jewish students. For the Hillethasadoptedanewmissionstatementand and RichardA. Loeb, motivated by Nietzchean to have definite advice as to sex morality, about rest. Hillel became irrelevant, strategic plan that commits the organization philosophy and determined to commit the Jewish home life, his attitude toward his girl, Underfunded and passive, Hillel was ill to"enrichingthelives of Jewish undergraduate "perfect crime, "brutally murdered 14 -year- etc. Unless we can give him that conception, prepared to weather the cultural and political and graduate students so that they may enrich old Bobby Franks in Chicago. make him understand that any. sort of Jew is storm of the 1960s. the Jewish people and the world." Shocked B'nai B'rith leaders in Mobile, Ala., accepted, that we do not classify the Jews as "In an age when students protest against Through Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, so- wrote to the national secretary of B'nai B'rith, Orthodox or Reform, then we have failed." the establishment, Hillel is the symbol of cial justice alternative breaks and on-campus Leon Lewis, expressing interest in the case Under the direction of Abram Sachar, later the establishment," Rabbi Edward Feld, then educational initiatives, Hillel strives to infuse andwonderingwhattheJewish organization's the founding president of Brandeis University, Hillel director at the University of Illinois, Jewishmeaning into the lives of the most un- response would be. The answer, in'one word, Hillel expanded, growing to more than 100 complained, involved Jewish students. Hillel has returned was "Hillel." units at universities across North America. Rabbi Irving Greenberg characterized the to its roots as an organization committed to The new campus organization, whose es- Many of these, significantly, opened during Americancollegecampusasa"disasterareafor those lacking a Jewish education while still tablishment Lewis characterized as "almost the dark days of the Depressionwhen (as now) Judaism, Jewish loyalty and Jewish identity." providing outlets for more Jewishly commit- providential," would henceforward provide higher education seemed to many Jews a more By the 1970s, Hillel was admittihg defeat, ted students. Jewish students with precisely the kind of sensible alternative to unemployment. Since "We are doing ourjob poorly in some places," Hillelcelebratesitsanniversaryatamoment initiation into Jewish communal life that Jews facedsignificantsocialdiscriminationon its national director, Alfred Jospe, confessed, when the largest group Of Jewish students in Leopold and Loeb never had. Wisely, B'nai college campusesinthosedays, Hillelprovided "We continue to have utterly inadequate and American history the children of the baby B'rith adopted Hillel in 1925 and sponsored them with a refuge, a home away from home. sometimes virtually nonexistent program boomers is reaching college campuses. the organization for nearly 70 years. It strove to meet their Social, cultural and budgets. Meanwhile, the Jewish community's funding Hillel, which continues its 85th annwer- religious needs. Jospe went on to note that with "a staff- sources, drained by the economic downturn sary year celebrations this summer, began Following World War II, thanks in part to student ratio of one to 2,000 or one to 3,000 and the Madoff scanclal, are dramatically independently in 1923 at the University of the G. I. Bill, the number of Jews on college or even one to 5,000," Hillel is "cruelly un- shrinking. As communities everywhere reas- Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and focused from campuses mushroomed. The American Jew- derfunded.': sess their priorities, the needs of Jewish college The 1988 appointment of Richard Joel as students need to be remembered. international director began Hillel's modern- Eighty-five years after the Leopold and Letter from Israel day revival. During the course of his tenure, Loeb case brought the needs of Jewish college Joel remade, re-energized and repackaged the students tothe community's attention, Hillel's organization. Exploiting communal concerns mission is more urgent than ever. Israel has flurry of political excitement over "Jewish continuity, " he reminded Jewish JonathanD.SarnaistheJosephH.&BelleR. leaders that "the campus is ... a key gateway BraunProfessorofAmericanJewishHistoryat for Jewish continuity and a key definer of the Brandeis University and author of'American Jewish future." Judaism: A History." By Ira Sharkansky Israel is going through a season of procla- mations and legislative proposals that remind me of American campaigns about prayer in schools, abortions and gay marriage. The equivalents here are a proposal to outlaw the mourningof Israel's existence (Nakba) by the country's Arabs, jail sentences for those who deny the' Jewish character of the country and rabbinical demands that soldiers refuse orders to remove settlements. What links these Israeli andAmerican issues is their capacity to inflame marginal issues with religious fanaticism. I will let those closest to the American scene ponder their pros and cons. The Israeli cases are enough to worry me. The holiday of Shavuot may b'e adding to the efforts of religious activists. It commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Religious Jews mark it-by studying the law, including rabbinical interpretations delivered from then until now, all night. Com- mentators are emphasizing the Lord's grant of the land to Israel. Another impetus to this flurry of activity is the election of a right-wing government, whose components include Jewish approximations to Christian conservatives who expected action from Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his own contribution when he said that Palestin- ian representatives must recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a condition for moving forward on bi-lateral negotiations. Netanyahu has a point in the context of Palestinian demands that Israel remove Jews from the territory that should become their state, and that Palestinian refugees be given the right of return to what became Israel. Mahmoud Abbas was saying on the eve of his visit to Washington that he has no intention of flooding Israel with five million refugees. It would help if he said that in Arabic to his own population. The Hamas leadership, in control of Gaza and perhaps the most powerful party in the West Bank, is describing Abbas as an illegitimate claimant whose term expired in January and who cannot speak for the Pales- tinian people. We can argue if Netanyahu's demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as'a Jewish state is just, superfluous or just a clever way to avoid serious negotiations. Whatever he in- tends, he has lowered the barrier against other issues that are inflammatory with respect to the delicate balance between Jews and Arabs within Israel, as well as between religious and secular Jews. Although tense, and occasionally violent, relations between Israeli Jews and Arabs have been managed with some success. It helps that there are opportunities for nationalist expres- sion, usually-checked only when religious or political figures cross the boundaries against overt incitement to violence, or give aid to an enemy state. There is considerable freedom of instruction in Arab language schools. Arab members of Knesset visit enemy countries and suffer no more than rebuke from their Jewish colleagues and interrogation by security per- sonnel upon their return. MK Azmi Beshara has not been in Israel since he was said to have violated the rules by supporting military action against Israel while in Lebanon during the 2006 War and provided to the enemy sensitive information about Israeli forces. It may offend Jews when Arab citizens mourn the state's creation each year on May 15, how- ever, outlawing the occasion or insisting on explicit expressions of loyalty may cause more trouble by driving nationalism underground and adding to its intensity. A prominent safety valve for the feelings of Israeli Arabs are the speeches given by their representatives in the Knesset. The Arab parties do not get much more than the opportunity to speak. Resources allocated to Arab constituents do not match those allocated to Jews. The situation is similar in Jerusalem, where almost all Arabs boycott local elections on the claim that Israel has illegally occupied Arab neighborhoods. Sharitansky on page 19A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE bIANAGEMENT. ISSN 0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE ~ ~ ~x Winner of 40 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Lyn Payne Mike Etzkin HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN O199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park. FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. Sodety Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Harmon Kim Fischer Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky Steve Levine Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gall Simons MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman * Ted Marks * Louis Ballantyne email: * Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky By Gary Rosenhlatt New York Jewish Week Have we reached the point where we not only take anti-Semitism for granted but don't even question the illogical attitudes of those who hate us? I learned with shock, as we all did, of the attempt of four former convicts from New York, Muslim converts, who reportedly out of opposi- tion to the U. S. war in Afghanistan, decided to blow up synagogues, and presumably Jews, in the Bronx. Does that make any sense? Surely we will come to learn more details in the days and weeks ahead, but the strange conflation Of American foreign policy, Israel, militant Islam and anti-Semitism is as dan- gerous as it is puzzling. Yet we have been conditioned to accept the notion that virtually any controversial event in the world somehow becomes linked to Israel. Zionists and Jews, in a negative way. So whether it is AIDS, the Iraq war or, in the most frightening and exasperating recent example, the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, there are millions of people, particularly in the Arab and Muslim world, from government officials and newspaper editorialists to the "man on the street," who insist that Jews are to blame. How depressing that some circles don't seem to have progressed beyond the prejudice and hysteria of 14th- century Europe, when Jews were viewed as responsible for the Black Plague. Thousands of Jews were killed at that time for allegedly poisoning the water. In my interview two weeks ago with Gen. Keith Dayton, the U. S. security coordinator charged with heading the multinational team overseeing the training of Palestinian police forces, he mentioned how disturbed he was to find intimations of anti-Semitism in Iraq. It was Dayton who for more than a year led the search for weapons of mass destruction, and he said that when he visited mosques in Iraq, he noticed murals that depicted the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with a snake, featuring a Star of David, entwined around the Temple. The clear implication was that Judaism was the enemy of Islam. Of course it is politically incorrect to pursue this line of thinking, and it is curious to note how the mainstream press downplayed the fact that the four men arrested were associ- ated with Islam. More importantly, none of the many news reports I read and saw about the almost tragedy in Riverdale sought to explain why the arrested men harbored such hatred of Jews, or to link those feelings to their op- posing U. S. military actions in Afghanistan. The men were quoted, from taped transcripts, of talking about how they wanted to target synagogues and kill Jews. But no explanations even were attempted, no context offered, as if none were necessary. When the men thought they had tested their explosives successfully, they were quoted as saying "Allah akhbar," the Muslim phrase for "God is great," often the last words shouted out by suicide bombers in terror attacks in Israel and other countries. Presumably we were to fill in the blanks and make the connection ourselves. Much of our mainstream media dances around the edges of the combustible connec- tion between Islam and terror, rarely dealing with the fact that while the great majority of Muslims are peace-loving people, the great majority of terror attacks in recent years have been perpetrated by Muslims carrying out jihad, or holy war. In an eerie coincidence, the day before the Riverdale arrests I was cleaning out some drawers in my office and came upon a thick file labeled "Brooklyn Bridge." I pulled it out and started reading the initial cover- age of the Brooklyn Bridge shooting death of 16-year-oldAri Halberstam, and thewounding "of three other Lubavitch young men, 15 years ago. It brou.ght back the fear and sadness of that dark time. In the news reports, several Lubavitch rabbis who were interviewed insisted that the crime was the work of an Arab terrorist seeking revenge on the 29 murders of Arabs committed in Israel a few days before by Ba- ruch Goldstein, in a Hebron mosque. But the authorities, including the mayor and police commissioner, were, understandably, guarded and cautious. It turns out, though, that the rabbis were correct. The shooter, Rashid Baz, born in Lebanor;and living in New York, was conwicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to 141 years in prison. But it took six years before the murder was reclassified as an act of terror, not road rage, and directly related to a jihad-motivated revenge for the Hebron shootings. What are we to make of these terrifying events, past and present? The rational part of us reminds us that these are aberrations, the work of deeply disturbed individuals, and that education is the key to the solution. But the fact is that anti-Semitism, often couched as anti-Zionism, is growing in Europe and parts of South America, and that often it is the most educated segments of the population who are the most biased. The ongoing lesson for us is to maintain balance, however precarious, in our outlook--always vigilant against those who-wish us harm, yet committed to the principles of freedom, democracy and toler- ance. And we need to remind the world, and even ourselves, that excuses for anti-Semitism must always be questioned, challenged and vigorously opposed. Gary Rosenblatt is the editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week, from which this column is reprinted with permission. He can be reached at